What a mixed bag this book was! As the sequel to the magnificent, The Forever King, I have to say, The Broken Sword is more than a little disappointing. Picking up a few years after the events in the first book, it continues the story of Arthur Blessing, Mr Taliesin – the Merlin – and Hal. Just like in the first book in the trilogy, there is an evil force embodied in a man, trying to claim the grail cup and destroy Arthur. And so the adventure continues – from the Middle East, to Europe and the UK and ultimately, New York.
Whereas The Forever King was fast-paced, cinematic and often unpredictable, The Broken Sword was mostly pedestrian and predictable, repeating too many tropes and characteristics from first book, and suffering by comparison. For example, whereas Saladin was an incomparable and quite scary villain, Thanatos was a caricature. As a reincarnated knight, Hal the former FBI agent and recovering alcoholic struggles to keep reader interest and, frankly, some of the scenes with the Knights of the Round Table didn’t gel. That an ancient knight can drive a truck, let alone ride a motor bike and seemingly embrace contemporary life and technologies with such ease was hard to swallow. Also, some of the plot resolutions were a little too ex machina for my liking and had me rolling my eyes. I became frustrated that I was expected to take such a leap of faith. However, just when I was about to toss the book aside in disgust, a wonderful back story, steeped in the fundamentals of Arthurian myth (with modifications), or some tight action in the present appeared and reminded me of what I so enjoyed in The Forever King – neat, imaginative prose and powerful storytelling.
Saying that, I do believe The Broken Sword relies too much on telling rather than showing, a cardinal sin in a novel. But, when the authors do show, they are damn fine.
I will read the third book but I have to say, my expectations are not so high. I hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised.